Last night was one of those nights when instead of sleeping, I end up lying there pondering all manner of things: life and death, the nature of time, every major life event to ever befall me. It’s no surprise that I’m in a contemplative mood. I got engaged to my boyfriend of five years less than a week ago, so naturally there is a lot to think about. One of the things I’ve been pondering is why this relationship? Why has this one worked out when the others didn’t. I’m beyond elated that it did, but I wanted to know why, which leads me to my 2am revelation.
I get a sense very early on as to whether a relationship will last. I knew going into my previous one that it wouldn’t be forever. I can’t explain how; I just felt it in my bones. One day it would end, and he would be the one to do it. So when it came time to decide what to do after graduation, rather than stay where he was, I found a job back home. I put distance between us because ultimately I knew it wouldn’t last. With Tom the opposite happened.
We got together shortly after I secured my first teaching post, which meant moving down to Oxfordshire for the duration of the academic year. That Christmas he asked me to move in with him once the year was over. Naturally, I accepted. Prior to us getting together, I had fully anticipated settling in Oxfordshire and setting myself up there. Instead, July found me packing my life up once more and moving back to the Midlands. I left a job I loved at a wonderful school to be with him, and I have never regretted it. I am convinced that the reason I was willing to put this relationship over my job is because I knew intrinsically that this one would last. I knew that further down the line it would be worth it, and the ring on my left hand says I was right.
A little while back I was discussing my relationship with my friend Jess. I told her how initially I wasn’t the slightest bit interested and how at first glance Tom didn’t appear to be my type at all. But as I got to know him, it turned out that in many ways we were remarkably similar. My best friend, Jodie, who introduced me to Tom and to whom I owe my relationship, says she always knew we would get on if we just talked because the way we tick is practically the same. When I related this to Jess, she made the astute observation that while Tom and I might appear very different on the surface, when it comes to the deep, complex stuff we are very much on the same page.
That, I believe, is the key to why we work. Our differences are all superficial. I like to wear bright clothes; his wardrobe is very muted. I like having trinkets and ornaments around the place; he is very much a minimalist. He’s into rock music; I as a general rule am not keen. These are all differences, but they are tiny ones which ultimately do not matter. As far as emotions, morals and values are concerned, we agree on virtually everything. In previous relationships it was the other way round: plenty of superficial similarities, but profound differences also. That is why they didn’t last. That is what I realised at 2am last night. It’s only taken me six and a half years.